The Fabian Script
Jenny's Page

A newspage written and updated exclusively for this Website by Jenny Agutter (31/3/2000)

News of Jenny's own film project on the life of Edith Nesbit:

I am at present working, with a very imaginative scriptwriter Caleb Ranson on a script about the author E,Nesbit. Caleb grew up reading Nesbit’s stories and is a big fan of her work.

It is to be a film about "Rites of Passage". Nesbit wrote about children growing up, reflecting society through the children's eyes. I want to create a film that is about her life but it will be seen through her fourteen year old son's eyes.

The story is in a special sense a part of my life. I have grown up with Roberta and with the author who created her. I read so many of her books as a child: The Treasure Seekers the Wouldbe Goods, The Amulet, The Phoenix and The Carpet and The Railway Children.

I want to use Nesbit’s imagination in a way that will involve the audience today. I feel that is the way The Railway Children works; it is costume drama, it belongs to another age, but it presents an image of what we want from an ideal world.

There is something valuable about echoes, parallels between ones work and ones life. In exploring E. Nesbit I am finding out a lot about myself. Although part of me recognises that I have grown up, taken on the responsibilities of being an adult, in many ways I respond like a child, and that is what I feel from Nesbit. Unlike her I am not trying to recreate my childhood in order to work it out. But it remains very present, particularly with the recent return to The Railway Children.

The storyline of my script takes place over three months. It is at the beginning of the20th century. Edith is beginning to be successful, and the family has just moved in to Well Hall. The family includes Edith (Daisy Bland) her husband Hubert, Fabian their son, his older brother and sister, and also his younger sister who is in fact his half sister. She is he daughter of Hubert and Alice Hoatson. Alice lives with the family, she takes on the role of housekeeper/ secretary.

Now in my forties, I am much more aware of how close we are to the time in which these people lived. When I Played Roberta in Lionel Jeffries film, it was 1970, The Railway Children had been written sixty-five years before, and at seventeen I felt we lived in a very different age. Ninety-five years on I realise Society changes, as economics and politics dictate, but people remain the same. There are the same fears, the same hopes, we are still trying to unravel and make sense of our emotional lives. Growing up is as much of a problem as it has always been.

The biggest difference in the last hundred years has been the affect of the first and second world wars. There was a belief in the past that we could create a Utopian World. Nesbit alludes to one in The Phoenix and The Carpet. Today it is hard to believe that any society could be perfect, understanding how deeply flawed human nature is. The best we can do is to take care of our individual responsibilities.

I want to explore Nesbits world, the complex fabric of her life, and use the threads in a story which, I hope, will feel as though it is something she might have written.

My script is almost complete, and I will keep you posted as to how it all develops.